A seven-year-old girl has discovered her love for rock climbing, sailing and off-roading on a motorbike after being introduced to the thrilling pursuits by her adventurous mother.
Lola Bolam, who lives on a houseboat near Battersea, south west
Co-founder of the Filthy Cute London clothing brand and a former City analyst, Stephanie told how she became taking extreme sport more seriously after her daughter was born, having always been super active.
‘My dad took me out climbing and sailing at a really young age,’ she told FEMAIL.
Stephanie Bolam, 33, who lives on a houseboat in Battersea, south west London, is an all-girls biker club member and keen to help daughter Lola, seven, excel at off-road ‘enduro’ motorcycling
Stephanie said Lola, pictured, is destined to ride a motorbike due to the family she’s growing up in
Mother-of-one Stephanie admitted her daughter (pictured) hasn’t taken to rock-climbing as much as other activities
Stephanie grew up sailing with her father and she’s now repeating that experience for her own daughter
‘Parenting and adventure is a weird contradiction – on the one hand you become more sensible and respectful of your life when you become a mother.
‘But on the other hand, I wanted to take back control of my life having been pregnant and given birth.
‘Lola and I now ski together, we climb together and we ride motorcycles together off-road. She goes for hours and hours!
‘There’s always a few people who say, “Wow, I’d never let my kid ride a motorbike”.
Despite the idea of a seven-year-old riding a motorcycle striking fear into most parents, Stephanie said she’s eager for her to learn the basic skills at a young age
‘Many people know someone who’s been injured while riding a motorcycle.
‘But Lola’s not riding on a road, and because of the family she’s being brought up in she’s always likely to end up riding a motorcycle anyway.
‘It’s so much better to learn how to ride at a young age, and in a safe environment, so that she has long-term skill-set. If she ever wants to ride on the road, that’s up to her. Next year she can have a bigger bike and start competing if she wants.
‘And for me, riding off-road is certainly no more dangerous than introducing a child to riding a bicycle.’
Stephanie, pictured with Lola, said riding off-road is ‘certainly no more dangerous than introducing a child to riding a bicycle’
Stephanie is an adventure race ‘test pilot’ for UK firm Rat Race Adventure Sports, taking part in gruelling ultra-marathons in some of the world’s most inhospitable places.
She’s also an accomplished rock climber and mountaineer who’s introducing Lola to the art of wall-crawling – though she admitted her daughter hasn’t taken to that activity as well as she has to others.
‘We’ve had some bad days and good days. And it’s hard when you take your kid climbing outdoors,’ she explained.
‘There have been times where she’s burst into tears 10 metres up a climb, when I’ve thought she’d been having a nice time!
Stephanie, pictured with Lola, is an adventure race ‘test pilot’ for UK firm Rat Race Adventure Sports, taking part in gruelling ultra-marathons in some of the world’s most inhospitable places
Stephanie said it’s much better Lola learns how to ride at a young age, and in a safe environment, so that she has long-term skill-set
‘You feel like everyone’s staring at you, as if you’re some brutal mother.’
The first thing many people notice about Stephanie is her ‘full body suit’ tattoo, which took almost four years to complete.
She admitted it raises eyebrows when she drops her young daughter off at the school gates, chuckling: ‘The school run mums are quite used to me now!
‘Lola goes to a fairly small school around the corner from where we live, and I think people in London are generally pretty open-minded, interested and intrigued by my body art.
‘It’s noticeable that when I visit other cities I get a lot more looks! Some people do feel entitled to have an opinion, which is fine. At the end of the day I’ve got something that’s visible on my body and that’s very different to others.
Stephanie is also an accomplished rock climber and mountaineer who’s introducing beloved Lola to the art of wall-crawling
‘But art is theatre. It’s there to give people something to think about. And I don’t mind that at all.’
And as well as being a member of the VC London female motorbike collective, Stephanie is also a passionate runner and endurance athlete.
‘At the moment Lola wants to come running with me,’ she said.
‘But you have to know a child’s limits, and it’s about trying to find a way for her to feel part of my training, without her actually coming from a ‘proper’ run with me.’
In March this year Stephanie took part in the ‘Mongol 100’, an epic 100 mile long ultra-marathon across a frozen lake in northern Mongolia, where temperatures can dip below minus -40 degrees C.
Stephanie, pictured sailing with Lola, admitted her full body tattoo raises eyebrows when she drops her young daughter off at the school gates
That event is the brainchild of Rat Race Adventure Sports – and Stephanie is now a ‘test pilot’ for that firm, running ‘recce’ missions to prepare the routes before they’re opened to the general public.
Speaking about her love of adventure racing – a niche sport that’s growing in popularity in the UK – Stephanie explains: ‘I really needed to find something extreme and sporty as part of my daily life, and that wasn’t going to take time away from Lola and see me heading to the Alps every other weekend to go climbing.
‘I can’t just go to the gym – that’s just not going to happen. I needed a mission, something to train for.
‘And that’s how adventure racing began for me. Before the Mongol 100, I’d never even run a marathon before and I didn’t really take the training seriously until six months before the event.
‘For me, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I absolutely loved it.
Stephanie said she often takes Lola skiing with her, and explained how she got into adventure racing as she needed to find something extreme and sporty as part of my daily life
‘It wasn’t competitive at all and there were no egos. Everyone just wanted the others to achieve what they wanted.
‘The support of the people around you was incredible. It was super emotional, and an amazing feeling.’
And next up for Stephanie is a Rat Race ‘test pilot’ trip to Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole.
It’s a land filled with ice, glaciers, tundra… and potentially deadly polar bears.
Stephanie, also an accomplished sailor, will be amongst a team of pioneers who’ll attempt a four day ski traverse of this barren landscape.
She says: ‘Svalbard is a place I’ve always wanted to go and I’m fascinated by wilderness areas that people don’t tend to go to.
Next up for Stephanie is a Rat Race ‘test pilot’ trip to Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole
After Svalbard, Stephanie has also got a crossing of the Namibian desert on her adventure wishlist
‘This is a really wild place where you’ll really feel like part of an adventure.
‘And, of course, there are bears to contend with. We’ll have special training to deal with any issues they might pose and some of the team will have weapons in case of any emergency.
‘After Svalbard, I’ve also got a crossing of the Namibian desert on my wishlist.
‘A blazing hot desert will be a nice contrast to all the frozen destinations I’ll have been to!’
To find out more about becoming Rat Race test pilot, visit http://ratrace.com/bucketlist/. Follow Stephanie on Instagram